About two years ago, I got sick. About three months ago, I got sick again"of all the extra weight I'd been carrying around since my diagnosis. After several not-so-successful attempts to take off the extra weight with elimination diets and cleanses, I decided it was finally time to do something serious about it. I joined Weight Watchers and wrote about my decision here at MyRACentral.com to help make myself accountable.
To further increase my chances for success, I decided that I was going to attend actual meetings in addition to doing the online program. I figured spending one hour each week thinking about my goal would help me stay on track. Luckily, a good friend of mine already attended a weekly Weight Watchers meeting near my work, so I had a pal to go with and reinforce my own resolve. The first meeting felt a little hokey with all the applause and 'bravo' stickers, but to be honest, it also felt inspiring. Throughout the meeting, many people with much more to lose than me talked about how much progress they had made already and what a difference it had made in their lives. At the end, I found myself happily sharing my own reasons for joining and feeling encouraged when everyone applauded me. Part of me wondered if I was drinking the kool-aid when I left the meeting, but I had to admit I also felt really motivated by all the positive support.
That first week, I felt overwhelmed and a little anxious trying to figure out what I could eat and how to manage a steady stream of dinners out with friends, work cocktail parties and other tempting events. Slowly, though, I began to figure out what worked for me and what didn't. When I went back the next week to weigh in, I had lost 2.8 pounds! Part of me couldn't believe it, but at the same time, I had made changes, so it made sense: the proof was in the pudding, or in this case, the low-fat pudding.
The next week, I lost three more pounds. The best part was, I didn't feel like I was depriving myself or losing out on all the fun social events that make up my life. It took some planning, but it felt manageable. There were a few weeks here or there where I gained a little, but most of the time, it was due to a special event that I had anticipated. For me, it was important to realize that my weight loss was not going to be completely linear. As long as I was losing more weeks than I was gaining, I figured I was heading in the right direction.
As I began to make progress, I decided it was time to rev up my yoga practice. I began trying out more vigorous classes and found that I was able to get through them just fine. I still had to modify parts of each class, but I liked feeling challenged, practicing with a group again, and feeling stronger and fitter. It also felt great to slip on some of my yoga pants and notice they were a little baggy on me for the first time in a long time.
Three weeks ago, I stepped onto the scale at a meeting for my weigh in. I smiled at the woman behind the counter as she recorded my weight, and when her eyes lit up, I knew the news would be good. She congratulated me and told me I'd reached my 10% goal. When she handed my tracking book back to me, I saw the number for myself: I finally weighed what I had weighed before my diagnosis! I had really done it! A wave of triumphant glee rolled over me. This milestone meant so much more than I could describe. By losing my post-RA weight, I had gained back a part of me I feared might be gone forever. I felt more like me again- the old me, and that felt great.
The real challenge will come with keeping the weight off, but I'm committed to staying within a range that is healthy and realistic for me. I'm sure that there will be times ahead when RA will make this difficult, but I feel like I'm better prepared than before. I now know what works for me and what doesn't, and that gives me confidence. Even if RA throws me another curve ball in the future, I know I'll be able to throw one right back at it.
Sara is the author of the blog, The Single Gal's Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis and a partner in the Buckle Me Up International Young Arthritis Awareness movement. Find out more at Buckle Me Up Movement.com!